How to Increase Trail Running Endurance

Hey there, fellow trail runners! Are you ready to take your trail running game to the next level? If so, you’re in the right place! In this guide, I’ll be sharing my expertise on how to increase trail running endurance, which is essential for taking on longer and more challenging trails. From strength training to long runs, ultra marathons to mountain running, I’ll provide you with a plethora of tips and tricks to help you run faster, stronger, and longer. So grab your hiking boots and let’s get started on this journey to better endurance!

How to Increase Trail Running Endurance

Assessment of Current Trail Running Endurance

Assessment of Current Trail Running Endurance

As an avid trail runner myself, I know firsthand the importance of assessing current endurance levels. When I first started trail running, I quickly realized that my cardiovascular endurance was lacking, and I struggled to keep up with my running buddies on longer runs.

Evaluation of Current Performance

To assess your current endurance level, you can start by evaluating your current performance on your regular running routes. Are you able to maintain a steady pace throughout your run, or do you find yourself slowing down towards the end? Do you feel out of breath after a few minutes of running, or are you able to maintain steady breathing? Take note of your average pace and distance covered, and try to identify any patterns in your running performance.

Identifying Strengths and Weaknesses

Once you’ve evaluated your current performance, it’s time to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Perhaps you have great strength and stamina on uphill climbs but struggle on downhill descents. Or maybe you have strong cardiovascular endurance but lack the leg strength to power through steep inclines. Identifying your strengths and weaknesses will help you focus your training efforts on areas that need improvement.

Goal Setting

Finally, it’s essential to set realistic and achievable goals based on your current level of endurance. If you’re new to trail running, it’s important to start with small, achievable goals and gradually build up your endurance over time. On the other hand, if you’re an experienced runner looking to tackle an ultra marathon, your goals will be much more ambitious. Whatever your goals may be, remember to be patient and consistent in your training. With dedication and hard work, you can improve your trail running endurance and take on even the most challenging trails.

Training Strategies for Trail Running Endurance

Trail Running Endurance

Cardiovascular Endurance Training

Cardiovascular endurance is a key factor in improving your trail running performance. Without good cardiovascular endurance, you’ll quickly find yourself out of breath and struggling to keep up with your running buddies. But fear not, there are a variety of cardiovascular endurance training strategies that can help you build the stamina and endurance needed for successful trail running.

One of the most effective cardiovascular endurance training strategies is interval training.

This involves alternating between short periods of high-intensity exercise and periods of rest or low-intensity exercise. For trail running, hill repeats are a great form of interval training. Find a steep hill and run up it at maximum effort, then walk or jog down for recovery. Repeat this for several repetitions to build cardiovascular endurance.

Another effective training strategy is tempo runs. These involve maintaining a steady, challenging pace for an extended period of time. Start with a warm-up, then run at a pace that is just outside your comfort zone for 20-30 minutes. This will help improve your lactate threshold and build endurance.

Don’t forget about cross-training as well. Activities such as cycling, swimming, and rowing can help build cardiovascular endurance without putting excessive strain on your joints. Aim for at least two cross-training sessions per week in addition to your running workouts.

Lastly, be sure to include recovery in your cardiovascular endurance training plan. Proper rest and recovery are just as important as the workouts themselves. Listen to your body and take rest days when needed, and don’t be afraid to scale back your workouts if you’re feeling fatigued.

Strength Training

While cardiovascular endurance is crucial for trail running success, strength training is equally important. Strong muscles and joints can help prevent injury, improve running form, and increase overall running efficiency. Here are some effective strength training strategies to help improve your trail running endurance.

First and foremost, focus on functional strength training. This involves exercises that mimic the movements and demands of trail running. Lunges, squats, and step-ups are all great exercises for building lower body strength and stability.

For upper body strength, exercises like push-ups, pull-ups, and rows can help build arm and shoulder strength needed for running on uneven terrain.

Incorporating plyometrics can also be effective for building strength and power. Box jumps, lateral jumps, and single-leg hops are all great examples of plyometric exercises that can help improve trail running performance.

Don’t forget about core strength as well. A strong core can help improve running posture, stability, and balance. Planks, crunches, and Russian twists are all effective core exercises to incorporate into your strength training routine.

Lastly, be sure to prioritize recovery in your strength training plan. Adequate rest and recovery can help prevent injury and allow your muscles to rebuild and recover. Aim to incorporate rest days into your training plan and prioritize proper nutrition and hydration.

Running Technique

Improving your running technique is another effective way to increase trail running endurance. By optimizing your form, you can run more efficiently and reduce the risk of injury. Here are some tips for improving your running technique on the trails.


First, focus on your posture. Keep your head up and eyes looking forward, rather than at the ground. Your shoulders should be relaxed and back, and your arms should be bent at a 90-degree angle, swinging naturally at your sides.


Next, focus on your foot placement. Aim to land on the middle of your foot, rather than your heel or toe, to reduce impact and improve efficiency. Be mindful of your stride length as well – taking shorter, quicker steps can help reduce the risk of injury and improve efficiency.


When running uphill, lean forward slightly and take shorter, quicker steps. When running downhill, lean back slightly and take longer, slower steps to maintain control.

Another aspect of running technique is cadence, or the number of steps you take per minute. Aim for a cadence of around 180 steps per minute to improve efficiency and reduce the risk of injury.

Nutrition and Recovery

In addition to training strategies, nutrition and recovery also play an important role in increasing trail running endurance.

Fueling Your Body

Proper nutrition is essential for endurance athletes like trail runners. Carbohydrates are the primary fuel source for high-intensity exercise, so it’s important to consume enough complex carbohydrates to support your training efforts. Aim to eat a balanced diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, and try to eat a carbohydrate-rich snack or meal 30-60 minutes before your trail run.

Hydration is also important for endurance athletes. Dehydration can impair your performance and increase your risk of injury, so make sure to drink enough water throughout the day and during your trail runs. Aim to drink at least 8-10 cups of water per day, and bring water or a hydration system with you on your runs.

Recovery Strategies

  • Here are some recovery strategies to help your body recover from your trail runs and be ready for your next workout:
  • Allow your body time to rest and recover between trail runs. Take a day off or cross-train with a low-impact activity like swimming or yoga.
  • Incorporate stretching into your post-run routine to help prevent muscle tightness and soreness. Focus on stretching your calves, hamstrings, quads, and hips.
  • Foam rolling is another effective way to promote recovery and reduce muscle soreness. Roll out your muscles for a few minutes after your trail run.
  • Eat a balanced meal or snack within 30 minutes of finishing your trail run to help refuel your body and promote recovery. Include carbohydrates and protein to help repair muscle tissue.


How can running endurance be increased quickly?

Although there’s no shortcut, consistent cardiovascular training, strength exercises, and proper nutrition can help build running endurance faster.

Can you trail run daily without risk of injury?

It’s generally not recommended to trail run every day due to the increased impact on joints and muscles. Incorporate rest days and cross-training for injury prevention.

How often should you go trail running each week?

The recommended frequency of trail running varies depending on the individual’s fitness level and goals. Generally, 2-3 times a week is a good starting point.

Does trail running cause more strain on the body compared to road running?

Trail running can be more challenging than road running due to the uneven terrain and elevation changes. It puts more stress on the joints and muscles, but can also lead to greater strength and endurance gains if done properly.

Final thought

Improving trail running endurance requires a combination of strategies, including cardiovascular endurance training, strength exercises, running technique, speed training, nutrition, and recovery. By incorporating these strategies into your trail running routine, you can achieve your specific endurance goals and improve your overall performance. Remember to listen to your body, rest and recover when necessary, and gradually increase the intensity and frequency of your trail runs. With dedication and consistency, you can become a stronger and more resilient trail runner.

  • Cardiovascular endurance training is key to building trail running endurance
  • Strength training helps prevent injury and improve performance
  • Proper running technique can increase efficiency and reduce fatigue
  • Speed and interval training can enhance endurance and speed
  • Nutrition and recovery are important for overall health and performance
  • Set specific goals to track progress and stay motivated.
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Ras Vaughan
When possible Ras and Kathy will post trail dispatches to their personal Facebook pages, their Team UltraPedestrian Facebook page, and their Instagram account. Also, video dispatches will be posted to YouTube channels. Follow them on : Youtube, Instargram
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